For more than half a century NASCAR drivers and fans have planned their Labor Day weekend around the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. No more. This week NASCAR started what it hopes will become a new tradition. California Speedway's 2-mile oval is the new venue for Labor Day racing.
Long time race fans lament it will never be the same. Three-time Southern 500 winner Bill Elliott felt a little sadness in the change, but was happy to start third in the first Labor Day race in Fontana.Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s car went from bad to worse and he was happy when the frustrating night was finally over. They were already clinched in the top ten chase or the race would really have been a nightmare for them. Carl Edwards, a newcomer to Cup racing, had tire problems on Lap 45 but battled back to finish sixth in the #99 Ford.
Kasey Kahne and Mark Martin both climbed into the top 10 in points as they raced Elliott Sadler for the win. Martin seemed to have the strongest car, but it would take him several laps after a caution to get up to speed. Kahne finished second for the fifth time this season. Sadler came out with the win, his second victory of the season, and all but wrapped up a spot in NASCAR's new championship playoff.
Jeff Gordon ran over debris and damaged his car early in the race. His teammate, Jimmie Johnson, finished 14th and took over the points lead.
Traditions come and go and still race fans will be very loyal to their favorite driver. And be it in Darlington or California they will be cheering them on. The Southern 500 was a long and happy period in NASCAR's history, but it appears the new tradition started out with much success. The weather was beautiful in sunny California and the stands at the inaugural race were full of lively fans.
Perhaps there are traditions in your family that were begun generations ago. Maybe you learned from your parents and grandparents to pray without ceasing and to seek answers to life's challenges from God's Holy Word.
Have you clung to those traditions?
If not, start anew with your children. Teach them first about salvation through Jesus Christ and then encourage them to hold on to the truth of Christ's teachings. The initial race of the new NASCAR Labor Day tradition began with much excitement at California Speedway. Now, allow God to begin a new exhilarating heritage in your life and family that can be passed down from generation to generation.
Melva Cooper, Copyright 2004
Used with permission.